Come fall of 2011, McKinney Christian Academy (MCA) will have three new portable buildings gracing their campus. But it is what will be housed inside these portables – a brand new Directed Studies program – that will be a difference maker for MCA and its students. The Directed Studies program is a comprehensive learning program for students who are diagnosed with mild to moderate learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, ADD, and ADHD.
The foundation of the new program is based on two principles, the first of which is the belief that students with learning disabilities can succeed in the mainstream with the appropriate accommodations and support. The second principle is that students who are diagnosed with learning disabilities may need special help in all areas, not just reading and math.
MCA Head of School, Keith Bollinger, said “We (MCA) have not been able to address the needs of students who have displayed learning disabilities in the past. It breaks my heart to see students who can’t get the help they need and these students often have to leave us. Now we will be equipped to help them.”
Bollinger described students who would be a good fit for the Directed Studies program as having IQ capabilities (to learn) but are struggling with mainstream style teaching. He anticipates that the program will fit the needs of somewhere around ten percent of the total student population at MCA.
MCA has hired two full time staff members, who were trained at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital’s Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders, to lead the Directed Studies program. The program at Texas Scottish Rite specializes in identifying and treating children with learning disorders, primarily dyslexia.
One of the new staffers is Dr. Beverly Dooley, who will be the director of the new program. Dooley, who is Texas Scottish Rite trained and spent 12 years teaching kids with dyslexia at The Shelton School in Dallas, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MCA.
“I will be bringing my experience to the table. You need to be trained in the right approach, and I know that my training works. I went back and got my Ph.D. and now I know what works. I was just honored as one of six pioneers in the world of dyslexia,” Dooley explained.
Students who qualify for the program will be pulled out of mainstream classrooms for language arts and math classes to go to one of the two highly trained teachers, who will provide specialized instruction in math and language arts based on the student’s individual needs. Students will be mainstreamed back for the remainder of their individual class schedules. Bollinger, said the goal is to teach students with learning disabilities basic tactics and techniques which will enable them to be succesful in their studies. Students can then apply these same techniques across the board, in all subject matters.
In addition to teaching, Dooley is going to train teachers from public and private schools in methodology for teaching students with dyslexia.
“We will be training teachers from all over the Metroplex in the Take Flight dyslexia program that originated at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. The training center is an accredited training center by the International Multi-sensory Structured Language Education Council. Teachers can come and start their training in the summer. We offer a one-hour practicum for 20 hours for students. We’re connected to Mid-Western State University. and have a state licensing for dyslexia,” Dooley noted.
To be eligible for the Directed Studies program, a student must show a diagnosed mild to moderate need and/or have scored below 50 percent in reading and/or math on the Stanford 10.